Your dentist is the first line of defense against oral cancer. Every time you visit the dentist, he or she examines your tongue, teeth, gums and every surface in the mouth. Not only is your dentist checking for plaque buildup and cavities in your teeth, he or she is also checking for any signs of oral cancer.
Why Is the Dentist the First Line of Defense Against Oral Cancer?
Do you know why oral cancer is often overlooked? Oral cancer manifests itself similar to mouth sores, which are very common and fairly harmless. Because of the similarity in appearance, a lot of people overlook oral cancer spots, mistaking them for sores. Regular mouth sores come and go within a few days. Oral cancer sores do not. Oftentimes, people ignore the sores for quite some time until the sores begin to grow or they happen to get recommendation to get the sores checked out.
Dentists are highly trained and experienced in recognizing diseases of the mouth such as oral cancer and can immediately spot and diagnose you. Because dentists know how to recognize and diagnose oral cancer better than anyone, they are considered the first line of defense against the disease.
Diagnosing Oral Cancer
When you see a dentist, he or she will perform a physical exam and pay close attention to the sore spot. He or she may recommend a biopsy of the affected tissue by sending a piece of it for testing to a laboratory. Once diagnosed, your dentist will discuss your results and how you should proceed in getting treatment for it.
Why the Urgency to Get Diagnosed?
If left untreated, oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body and become very difficult to treat. This is why an early diagnosis is crucial with any type of cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment are the best way to get a handle of the disease and eradicate it effectively and efficiently.
Because of the urgency involved in getting diagnosed and treated for oral cancer and the expertise provided by dentists to get this process started, it is crucial that you go to regular dentist appointments. This is even more important for individuals who are at a higher risk of developing oral cancer (smokers, heavy drinkers, etc.).
Honesty and Transparency with Your Dentist
While there is no sure way of knowing who will get oral cancer and who won’t, there are risk factors that increase a person’s chances of developing the disease. This is why being honest about your lifestyle choices (smoking and drinking) and family medical history are so important to share with your dentist. If you have any of these risk factors, your dentist will make sure to thoroughly check for any concerning sores and recommend more frequent oral checkups. Always be honest and transparent about these factors so your dentist has the knowledge necessary to keep you healthy.
Dentistry and Oral Cancer Care in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
If you are in need of a quality dentist for your dental care issues, including if you suspect you may have oral cancer, come see Dr. Steven R. Hagerman of Family & Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Hagerman has a wealth of experience treating a plethora of dental care issues and conditions and would love to help you. To make an appointment, call (651) 646-2392 or request an appointment online.